Review: Madcap power metal from DragonForce rocks Norwich Waterfront

DragonForce at Norwich Waterfront, November 9 2019. Picture: JASON NOBLE

DragonForce at Norwich Waterfront, November 9 2019. Picture: JASON NOBLE - Credit: Archant

If bands were paid on a per-note basis, DragonForce would be millionaires.

But that does English power metal collective a disservice when they can play soaring power ballads and madcap covers too.

It was the tail end of 2005 when the band came storming into the limelight courtesy of Through the Fire and Flames - the encore for tonight's Waterfront gig, and even though nearly a decade and a half have passed there is still plenty of speedy metal tunes to enjoy.

Extreme Power Metal is the new album which continues much in the vein that the band has carved as their own, with The Last Dragonborn from that record settling nicely into the set.

Indeed, the Skyrim-inspired tune has shades of prime Dio and proves it isn't just about the number of notes in a guitar solo.

The band doesn't leave a stone unturned in their quest to rock the Waterfront though, treating the audience to oldies like Black Fire and Valley of the Damned, as well as newbies like Razorblade Meltdown.

Herman Li and Sam Totman still steer the DragonForce ship as the talisman guitarists, and clearly revel in the on stage japes. Chief among those was a banjo-inflected tribute to the video game Farming Simulator. Really.

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Listening to their music, you wouldn't need to stretch far to think of video game music, and they proudly wear those influences on their sleeve with singer Marc Hudson even grabbing a guitar for a medley of famous themes.

An energetic performance is rounded out by a bonkers cover of Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On, which of you hadn't clocked the lyrics sounds so assuredly DragonForce you would think it's one of their own. They even get the circle pit going for the occasion, before launching into the familiar opening notes of Through the Fire and Flames.

Opening act were McRocklin & Hutch - an '80s-infused twosome.

Imagine Steve Vai or Yngwie Malmsteen noodling the Baywatch theme and you're not far off. The pair even complete the sound with Def Leppard-esque arena drums, vintage synth sounds and the headstockless guitar which proliferated in that decade.

Unquestionably the night's biggest revelation was Lovebites - a fearsomely fun five piece embarking on their first UK tour.

All the classic power metal tropes are there - soaring vocals, stampeding drums and twin guitar harmonies, even channelling the kind of riffs more akin to thrash overlords Anthrax or Megadeth.

If there is any justice this quintet will be back headlining venues like the Waterfront in their own right soon, and if the reception Norwich's packed power metal enthusiasts gave is any thing to go by, they'll be welcome in a heartbeat.

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